34 HISTORY OF PERSIA The 'Proclamation of War against Muwia by AH^ A.H, 35 (656).—Upon his election to the Caliphate Ali was advised to pursue and punish the assassins, but declined on the ground that he lacked the power* At the same time he was unwise enough to dismiss Muavia, in spite of entreaties to leave him in his post until his own position was secure. Muavia thereupon encouraged the belief that Ali was in collusion with the murderers, and consequently no other course was open to the newly elected Caliph but to proclaim war against him. The 'Battle of the Camel) A.H. 36 (656).—AH was un- fortunate in having Ayesha, the favourite wife of the Prophet, as his enemy* She was used us a tool by Talha1 and Zobayr, who seiaed Basra after a struggle with the loyalists. Upon the receipt of reinforcements from Kufa, Ali advanced on Basra and attempted to avoid civil war, but failed owing to an attack brought on by the murderers of Othman, Consequently, the Battle of the Camel, so called from Ayesha's appearance in the fighting line in a camel litter, was fought with intense bitterness and with terrible losses on both sides. Talha and Zobayr were killed and Ayesha was captured* The vanquished were treated with magnanimity, but the battle was a heavy blow to the best interests of Islam, and might have been avoided had Ali from the first denounced the assassins of Othman and refused to have any dealings with them. The Baffle of Siffin^ A.H, 37 (657).—After his victory at Basra, Ali proceeded to Kufa, which he made his capital. Organizing a large army, he marched up the Tigris and traversed the desert of Mesopotamia to the Euphrates, which he crossed. Muavia was ready with a powerful force, and after a fruitless attempt at reconcilia- tion and much desultory skirmishing the battle of Siflm was^fought in A.H. 37 (657). This desperate combat was distinguished by many feats of courage and raged for ,three days without decisive result* Muavia, becoming disheartened, agreed to a stratagem suggested by Amr, and caused his men to advance wi& scrolls of the Koran 1 Talha had saved Mohamed'e life at Ohod.